John Thomas Holland was born in 1883 in Tunstall, Staffordshire, and was the son of Jane Holland. Sadly, neither name is uncommon in that area at that time, so it is a challenge to determine any further information about his early life.
John was 31 years old when war broke out and, while his service records no longer exist, he enlisted early on, joining the North Staffordshire Regiment as a Private. He was assigned to the 8th Battalion, and was soon billeted in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Sadly, the next information available for Private Holland is a coroner’s report in a local newspaper.
Considerable mystery was associated with the evidence given before Mr Craddock, at the inquest… concerning the death of Private John Holland… now billeted in the town. Deceased was found killed on the railway line near Weston-super-Mare Station on Tuesday. The evidence revealed that Holland left his billet at 8:15am on that day, and announced that he was going to see a doctor. His body was found down the line at 12:30, the legs having been severed. From enquiries, it transpired that Holland had walked along a slip of garden fringing the line at a distance of about two miles from his billet. It was stated that deceased was of sober habits, and that he bore a good character. A verdict of Accidental Death was returned.Shepton Mallet Journal: Friday 8th January 1915
Private John Thomas Holland died on 29th December 1914: he was 31 years of age. He was laid to rest in Weston-super-Mare’s Milton Road Cemetery.